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A new political novel, for America's new politics
"Objects in the review mirror often really are closer than they appear. It's not that far from Wallace to Trump."
Louis Menard, New Yorker Staff Writer
In 1972 a segregationist southern governor ran in the Democratic Presidential primaries, before dropping out of the race. Primaries had been held in 15 states. He had won five.
Heart in Dixie is a fictional description of the movement that began with that governor and has grown in American life ever since. This movement has recently risen to the surface and, against all odds, has elected a President of the United States. But the book is also a love letter about this very special place where many of us were "southern-born and southern-bred."
The year is 1999, and four-time Governor Thomas Jefferson Davis lies near death. A young reporter makes her first trip to the Deep South to learn what his career meant to his supporters and what it may mean for the future of America.
She meets Gordon Halt, a trusted advisor to the Governor so long ago. She learns Gordon fought with his father, a moderate newspaper publisher, at the same time he resisted elements of the Klan, striving to preserve his particular vision of the South. Her research uncovers explosive audiotapes, long forgotten, by Billy Trask, a rival to Gordon and the Governor's closest aide and oldest friend. Her reporting reveals the violence that went with the battle for civil rights, and a criminal conspiracy, hidden for decades. Gordon strives to reconcile her reporting with his memories of that distant time and his love for the gracious and genteel South that has always been his home.
When her work is nearly done, a senseless crime drags the past into the present and both Rebecca and Gordon must come to terms with unexpected truths: that a love of place can override even love of family; that the civil rights movement was a second Civil War which, like the first one, was fought within families as much as between groups; and that this second Civil War may not be over.
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